Owen Walsh

Owen Walsh


I have been at the University of Leeds since 2012. In 2015, I graduated with a BA in English and History having completed a research project which focused on Claude McKay. I completed an MA in Race and Resistance in 2016. My MA research looked at how and to what extent racial binaries were challenged in the work of Claude McKay and William Attaway. I began my PhD at Leeds in October 2016, and anticipate completing it in 2019 or 2020.

Conference papers

'The Communist Politics and Primitivist Sensibilities of Claude McKay', The Red and the Black: The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic, University of Central Lancashire, October 2017

'The "English Inning" of Claude McKay, Transnational Writer and Socialist', What's Happening in Black British History VIII, University of Huddersfield, May 2018

'Racial Disidentification in the Travel Diary of Juanita Harrison', Society for the History of Women in the Americas Annual Conference, London School of Economics, June 2018

'American Imperialism in the Novels of William Attaway', BAAS PGR conference, Northumbria University, November 2018

(forthcoming) (panel organiser) 'Juanita Harrison on Veiling and Communism: A Proletarian Black Woman Intervenes in Global Controversies', African-American Intellectual History Society conference, Ann Arbor, March 2019


2016 Marion Sharples Prize for the best dissertation by a taught MA student in the School of History

2016 School of History and IMS PhD Scholarship

2017, 2018, 2019 PGR Extraordinary Fund travel grant

2018 BAAS Postgraduate Travel Award

2019 HOTCUS Doctoral Travel Award

Memberships and affiliations

British Association of American Studies (BAAS)

Historians of the Twentieth-Century United States (HoTCUS)

African-American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS)

Royal Historical Society (RHS)


I have experience teaching on the following modules:

HIST1055: Historiography and Historical Skills (strand title: The Red and the Black: African Americans and the Left in the Early Twentieth Century)

HIST1300: Primary Sources for the Historian (strand title: Claude McKay's A Long Way from Home)

HIST2442: Black Politics from Emancipation to Obama

Research interests

How does our view of Black internationalism change if we centre the West Coast of the American continent, rather than the usual sites such as New York City? This is the principal question to which my research responds. In doing so, I am focusing on a selection of African-American cultural producers in various literary genres and artistic mediums, who engaged in different ways and extents with the Pacific coast, and who expressed multivalent cosmopolitan sensibilities. Individuals of particular interest to me are Langston Hughes, Chester Himes, William Attaway, Arna Bontemps, Juanita Harrison, Loren Miller, Sargent Claude Johnson, and members of Seattle's distinguished Cayton family. My research sets the biographical and bibliographical histories of these individuals in a broader picture of Black intellectual, political, and cultural history in which international Communism, the American labour movement, and leftist traditions loom large. I am also interested in perspectives on the Black West, the Black Pacific, and American borderlands.


  • M.A. Race and Resistance (Distinction), 2016
  • B.A. English and History (First-class honours), 2015